Judge dismisses Turf Valley lawsuit

Opponents of expansion had challenged board's authority to continue hearings

November 16, 2005|BY A SUN REPORTER

A county judge has dismissed a lawsuit by opponents of the proposed expansion of the Turf Valley planned community and resort over a series of motions -- including one that challenged the Planning Board's authority to continue hearings on an application by the developer, Mangione Family Enterprises.

The lawsuit, filed two weeks ago in county Circuit Court, contended that the board in September violated county law by not immediately receiving and ruling on the five motions involving the western Howard County project.

The motions were considered late last week by the Planning Board after cross examination of a traffic expert for Mangione was completed. The motions were rejected on identical 3-0 votes. Two board members did not attend.

Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure dismissed the opponents' lawsuit Monday, saying "The matters before me are moot" because the Planning Board had acted on the opposition's motions.

That did not dissuade leaders of a coalition of opponents to Turf Valley's expansion from proclaiming triumph.

"What I tried to seek here was to get the county, who said to me that the application of that rule was discretionary, to admit that it was mandatory," said attorney Paul Kendall, who filed the lawsuit. "They refused to do that prior to this hearing."

Lynn Robeson, of the county Office of Law and legal counsel to the Planning Board during the Turf Valley hearings, acknowledged that it is required to consider motions immediately when possible. She said, however, that the board was well within its right to delay hearing the motions until after the developer presented its case.

The Planning Board's hearing is to resume Jan. 5.

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